When one is charged with a criminal offence in Ontario, part of the legal process is ensuring the accused gets a bail hearing in a timely manner – this is a constitutional right for anyone charged with a criminal offence who is held in custody. The purpose of the bail hearing is obvious but one often overlooked necessity for bail is for the accused and their criminal defence lawyer to have meaningful opportunities to meet and to prepare their defence to their criminal charges.
The court does not always grant bail, however. There are certain considerations that the court will consider when determining whether the accused should be released from custody or remain in custody for the duration of their criminal proceeding. Some of the more common reasons why bail may not be granted could include, but are not be limited to:
- The accused does not have a surety. In certain cases, the court may require the accused to have a surety before bail will be granted. A surety is an individual who is willing to take responsibility for the accused, ensure they adhere to the conditions of their bail, and report them if they violate said conditions. A surety generally must pledge an asset, or sometimes cash, for the person’s release. It is that pledge that can often give the Court the confidence that the surety will take their responsibility seriously – if the accused breaches the bail, the surety could lose the amount of the pledge. Sometimes, the accused simply does not have a surety willing to take on these responsibilities.
- The accused is likely to commit further crimes if released. If the Crown or court believes that the accused will likely commit additional criminal acts if they are released, bail can be denied. This situation can arise when one has a criminal record and is being brought up on a repeat offence, or when the accused has already been released on bail and has allegedly breached that bail.
- The accused is likely to attempt to flee the province or country. If the accused is considered a flight risk where they will attempt to flee, the court may deny bail. This type of situation can occur in high-profile cases, as well as more serious criminal offences, like murder, manslaughter, certain white-collar crimes, and so on.
- The public needs to be protected from the accused. If the Crown or court believes the accused is dangerous to the general public, bail can be denied – for instance, if an accused has shown a pattern of behaviour that puts the public at risk, including witnesses.
- The accused could face a lengthy imprisonment period if convicted and found guilty of the criminal offence. For certain criminal offences, there are long periods of imprisonment given upon conviction. This factor, an element of the “tertiary grounds” favours detention.
- The accused has committed a criminal offence that is grave in nature. The Crown can request that the court deny bail for certain offences or in cases where the gravity of the offence was considered outside the norms. For instance, someone is accused of multiple murders over a period of time.
This information is for informational purposes only. It is not meant as, and should not be considered, legal advice. As evident, even though one has a right to a bail hearing when arrested and charged with a criminal offence, it does not automatically guarantee they will be released on bail. However, having an experienced criminal defence attorney in Toronto, like Brian Ross, on your side can assist you at your bail hearing.